Land management strategies to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services in production landscapes

Protected areas may be the cornerstone of biodiversity conservation strategies, but they are not adequate nor sufficient to protect a full range of biodiversity across the wider landscape. They also do not supply all the values we can derive from healthy, functioning ecosystems where and when we need them.

In this project, we focus on conservation and development strategies in production landscapes – where satisfying the multiple objectives of diverse stakeholders is a key policy challenge. It is a complex problem, involving many alternative land management options across biophysically and socially heterogeneous landscapes. We aim to identify and design conservation strategies that are effective, efficient, and equitable for all stakeholders.

Our project has three overarching aims:

  1. Improving model design and parameterisation: we will integrate recent developments in causal inference and impact evaluation into our research, not just through improving the evidence base, but also by understanding what constitutes the ‘best available data’ and the best use of available data in different contexts.
  2. Develop and apply novel methods to analyse trade-offs: recent advances in optimization and computing are starting to allow us to complex problems with numerous objectives. We apply these novel methods to analyse policy options for three key case study regions (described below).
  3. Improve theory for land sharing and land sparing: Land use policies can generally be constructed as either land sharing (i.e. integrating land use objectives) or land sparing (i.e. separation of land use objectives). We will analyse the preference for these policies for multiple ecosystem services in heterogeneous landscapes, in order to develop generalized theory

We are developing three case studies, across three continents, which highlight and exemplify key conservation and development challenges:

The intensive agricultural regions of Australia, and focus on the Brigalow Belt regional ecosystem


The Coastal Doulas Fir and Associated Ecosystems, of British Columbia, Canada


The Ex-Mega Rice Project, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia




Chief Investigators: Kerrie WilsonClive McAlpine

Partner Investigators: Brett Bryan, Peter ArceseKai Chan

Postdoctoral Research Fellow: Elizabeth Law

PhD candidate: Rachel Friedman


Erik MeijaardJonathan RhodesPaul Ferraro, Richard Schuster, Jocelyn Sze

Themes and Projects:

Ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation theme

Borneo project

Key references:

Santika, T., Meijaard E., and Wilson, K.A. In Press (accepted 1st October 2015). Designing multifunctional landscapes for forest conservation. Environmental Research Letters.

Law E.A, and Wilson K.A. In Press (accepted March 2015). Providing context for the land-sharing and land-sparing debate. Conservation Letters.

Law E.A., Meijaard E, Bryan B.A., Mallawarachchi T, Koh L.P., Wilson K.A. 2015. Better land-use allocation outperforms land sparing and land sharing approaches to conservation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Biological Conservation. 186: 276-286.

Read more about this research:

Read more in Decision Point magazine…

Causal inference in conservation: a CEED workshop